You Want Chronicles? I’ll Give You Chronicles!

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Today is the first “normal” day I’ve had in more than two weeks. I know this because I had steel-cut oats (with soy, mirin, and rice vinegar, fantastic) for breakfast. Otherwise I couldn’t tell.

Last week began in Philly, with a talk at the Free Public Library; I thought it went well. Loads of people, all very friendly. Finished signing at 9.00 or so, and ate at the hotel, the Palomar. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised; I know Kimpton (the hotel chain) tries to work on its restaurants, but I haven’t been that impressed overall. But Square 1682 was really, really good: a warm octopus salad, followed by a tiny little cassoulet … obviously not a big enough sample to judge by, but I’d go back. Not that I know when I’ll be in Philly again.

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The Food Matters Cookbook Chronicles: St. Louis

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Oftentimes when I’m signing books for people they ask if they can take my picture. Last week in St. Louis I (for the first time) replied, “Fine, if I can take yours.” Really fun. Here are some of them.

Posted in Behind The Scenes, Travel

The Food Matters Cookbook Chronicles: Minneapolis

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I spoke at the Healthy Food Summit in Minneapolis Thursday and Friday, to mostly large, hyper-friendly, and ever-thoughtful crowds. My hosts Mindy Kurzer and Tim Kenny did a terrific job of organizing the packed two-day affair, and made me feel completely at home. Dinner Thursday was cooked by the talented and wonderful local chef Lucia Watson and her crew; Lucia also introduced me that night, so nicely I blushed.

Tim is director of education at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, a spectacular 1000-plus acre operation about half an hour from downtown Minny. He does fantastic work teaching kids the value of gardening, about which he is passionate.

And how about these cucurbits?

Now: Off to Philly, DC, Miami, and St. Louie.

Posted in Behind The Scenes, Travel

The Food Matters Cookbook Chronicles: Rocky Mountain Seitan

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I love Denver. First and foremost, a guy called me a “swell fellah.” You think that EVER happens in New York? No. “Good guy” maybe, but that’s not the same thing.

Denver is a tad generic, but the people are – as they are most everywhere in the West – from all over the place, generally friendly, and generally genuine. The weather is spectacular, or it has been whenever I’ve been here. The airport is essentially in Nebraska, but you can drive really fast so it only takes two hours to get into town. (This is an exaggeration but anyone who has flown in knows it can feel that way.) It takes an hour to get from curbside to the gate, too; this is the biggest airport in the country.

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The Food Matters Cookbook Chronicles: Pittsburgh

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Your reporter writes from a plane flying from Pittsburgh to Denver.

Last night I had the rare but not unprecedented privilege of having someone else cook my food for me. Not only for me, but for 60 of my closest friends, or at least 60 of my closest friends in Pittsburgh. And it was not only “someone” cooking the food, but my (actual) friend Andrew Morrison, who was the opening chef at Habitat, the topnotch restaurant in Pittsburgh’s new Fairmont hotel.

Andrew’s fairly straightforward but beautiful interpretations of some of the dishes from The Food Matters Cookbook reinforced my feeling that he’s not only ultra-competent but creative enough to have a brilliant future. Pittsburgh is lucky to have him and, from what I could tell in the few hours I was there, it’s a good place to be.

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The Food Matters Cookbook Chronicles: Toronto

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You might ask why I was eating a burger at all last night, and the answer is that simply, in this lovely little restaurant I was taken to in Toronto, the fish had no appeal – simply none. (And later, when I tasted that of one of my co-guests, I recognized that that had been the right decision, anyway.) I could have ordered vegetables but I had been eating them faithfully all day, and I was cranky. I could’ve ordered a big piece of meat but it felt hypocritical and wasteful. Maybe I should’ve gone to bed.

But after sharing a few unpromising appetizers, I begged the waitress for a really rare burger and she said, “When you ask for rare they make it medium rare,” and I said, “I know, that’s how it often is, and though I’d prefer it rare I don’t mind it medium rare, but if it’s medium I’m going to be unhappy,”  and she said, “Then you’ll be very happy.” And it came out well done. And I wasn’t unhappy at all, I just didn’t eat much of it. I ate fries and roasted beets.

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Tasting with the Greats

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by Bernard Sun 

[Bernie is an engaging and experienced sommelier in Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s group of New York restaurants. After he’d turned me on to great bargains at Matsugen, ABC Kitchen, and Jean-Georges, I asked him if there was anything he wanted to blog about. Turned out he was leaving town for a couple of events … and here’s his report. - mb] 

The Food and Wine Classic in Aspen sees several thousand attendees descend onto the tiny (and tony) town (altitude, 8,000 ft.) to hobnob with a legion of familiar names and faces from worlds of food and wine. There are 30-plus seminars on cooking over the course of four days, and no fewer than 26 different seminars about wine, beer, and spirits, including a few “reserved” tastings.  

Some of the best events, however, were not on the official program listing.  I was invited to – actually I stumbled upon – one of these, simply by being at the right place at the right time (this happened to be 2 a.m., while I was still adjusting not only to the drinking but to the altitude).  This was an impromptu brown bag blind tasting challenge in the basement with about a dozen people including my friends Aldo Sohm, Paul Greco, Brett Zimmerman, Paolo Domeneghetti, Brad Groper, Allison Domeneghetti, and Jose Andres, who had just finished carving a leg of Iberico ham for the crowd.  This is a pretty serious group of tasters in broad daylight, but how good are you long after midnight after working all day and drinking for hours? 

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Early Birds Abroad

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By Edward Schneider

A perennial problem for visitors to Spain is the dining timetable. Many Spaniards have their main meal at lunchtime, eventually going back to work and staying there until well into the evening. Only then do they start to think about going out for a stroll, a drink, another stroll and something more to eat. But if my wife and I were to have a full-blown sit-down lunch, we’d be useless for the rest of the afternoon and would miss a precious half day of sightseeing. So going native is not for us.

Before a brief trip to Córdoba, our first, we asked friends for dining ideas that were a little off the beaten track – that might take us out of the ancient center of the city into neighborhoods that most tourists don’t see. The one that particularly struck our fancy was about a twenty-minute walk east of our hotel (the dreamy Palacio del Bailío, which for a September stay, for example, can be booked on hotels.com for $233 a night). Continue reading

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When Life Gives You Limes: The Limeade Primer

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By Mike Hawley 

[Mike is one of these guys who does most everything right. Limeade, too. - mb]  

When I’m sweating my way through the tropics (my haunts are Cambodia and all over south and central Asia), my drink of choice is lime soda, with lots of fresh squeezed lime juice. I usually don’t take sugar or syrup with it because limes are sweet enough over there, though they’re still tart. Interestingly, a pinch of salt when it’s stinking hot, or when the limes are really acidic, can help.  

Back home, up here in the frigid North (i.e., Boston, where it was simmering near 100F last week) I love limeade. Or Margeritas. Or gin and tonic with a huge amount of lime juice. But most especially, I love limeade. I like lemons, too, and what follows also applies when life gives you lemons.   Continue reading

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